“This is a significant case that is going to help keep families on Texas roadways safer. This company learned a lesson that it is expensive to cheat, and in the State of Texas, rules affecting the safety of families on the road are of the highest importance. We’re honored and privileged to be able to represent the Gonzalez family in this very important case. We are honored to be able to get this type of outcome where Mr. Gonzalez, while he’ll never be the same, is going to be comfortably and appropriately taken care of for the rest of his life.”
– Chris Hamilton
On the morning of March 19, 2019, Emmett Gonzales was driving to work on the highway’s left-hand lane on a route he had driven many, many times before.
But on that day, there was a new road construction project that did not have proper signage on the road.
The company who had been performing road work had milled down the highway’s left lane, removing the asphalt and leaving a large edge between the left lane and the right lanes traveling in the same direction.
The company failed to backfill properly, slope, or otherwise make the edge safe, and failed to place proper warning signs—in direct violation of the Texas Department of Transportation’s contractual plans and requirements for the project.
Because it was dark and there was no proper signage, Mr. Gonzalez did not know the dangers that were up ahead. As the lanes merged, the wheel of Mr. Gonzales’s vehicle struck the edge between the lanes, causing him to lose control and go off the roadway.
His vehicle struck a metal fence, and a metal post entered the windshield of Mr. Gonzales’s car, impaling the right side of his head, causing him to lose a significant portion of his skull. According to emergency responders, he was found at the scene with a massive open skull fracture with exposed brain matter.
Mr. Gonzales suffered profound neurological consequences (including loss of memory and loss of the ability to swallow) and extreme disfigurement, among other tragic consequences, including a broken neck.
The highway construction company’s negligence was the direct and proximate cause of severe injuries to Mr. Gonzales.
It’s Expensive to Cheat
The wife of Mr. Gonzales hired the Dallas-based personal injury trial attorneys of Hamilton Wingo to represent them. Hamilton Wingo immediately got to work investigating what had happened.
“This was a very challenging case at the beginning because most contractors have immunity under the laws of the State of Texas for work they are doing,” said Chris Hamilton, owner and partner of Hamilton Wingo. “Many of these cases have been dismissed because law firms representing victims don’t understand the challenges. They rush into court, file the case without a proper investigation, and the case gets dismissed forever. This case required a lot of investigation and work upfront to make sure we could present a case that would survive a challenge for sovereign immunity.”
When the trial firm dug in, it was stunning what they were able to uncover.
The company initially denied all responsibility for what had happened. In fact, while Mr. Gonzalez was undergoing emergency brain surgery, the construction company’s insurers and experts were at the scene planning an elaborate coverup where they manufactured evidence to accuse Mr. Gonzalez of causing the wreck by oversteering into the ledge.
“As discovery proceeded, the defendant designated multiple experts to blame Mr. Gonzalez, thinking they would scare us into backing down,” said Hamilton. “When we took the depositions of those experts, they admitted they had falsified their accident reconstruction and had fraudulently misrepresented the black-box crash data from Mr. Gonzalez’s vehicle. The defense experts admitted that Mr. Gonzalez was not at fault. When we got to the deposition of the president of the company, it was clear this company knew they had to change their behavior.”
Mr. Gonzales and his wife were represented by Hamilton Wingo, who filed suit against the highway construction company.
Hamilton Wingo attorneys claimed the construction company failed to properly backfill, slope, or otherwise make safe the edge between the left and right lanes on Business 45, failed to place proper signage, and failed to conduct its construction work in a reasonably safe manner. Their failure to exercise ordinary care proximately caused Mr. Gonzales to suffer serious injury.
Fortunately, Hamilton Wingo was able to successfully resolve the case with a favorable confidential settlement.
“This is a significant case that is going to help keep families on Texas roadways safer,” said Hamilton. “This company learned a lesson that it is expensive to cheat, and in the State of Texas, rules affecting the safety of families on the road are of the highest importance. We’re honored and privileged to be able to represent the Gonzalez family in this very important case. We are honored to be able to get this type of outcome where Mr. Gonzalez, while he’ll never be the same, is going to be comfortably and appropriately taken care of for the rest of his life.”